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Field Guides Tour Report
Hawaii 2016
Mar 31, 2016 to Apr 9, 2016
Dan Lane & Megan Edwards Crewe

The smoking crater of Kilauea Volcano is impressively large, though you can't currently see any molten lava. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

There are few things that can more quickly elicit jealousy -- on the part of birders and non-birders alike -- than to tell them that you're headed for Hawaii for a week. After all, we've all seen the pictures: the lines of swaying palm trees arrayed along golden beaches, the jagged purple peaks clothed with verdant veils of vegetation, the smooth curves of the shield volcanoes on the Big Island, the ultramarine surf crested with perfect, curling breakers... And we birders know of other attractions too -- thrushes and flycatchers and "Hawaiian honeycreepers" (now known to belong to the family Fringillidae) found only on the islands.

Our tour started on the small, crowded island of Oahu, where most of the mainland flights land, and the vast bulk of the state's population lives. We gathered for our first pre-breakfast walk in the park right across the street from our hotel, where a host of introduced foreigners awaited: dozens of heavy-billed Java Sparrows and bounding swarms of Common Waxbills nibbled grass seeds on the park's ballfields, Red-vented Bulbuls and Red-crested Cardinals sang from treetops, and Saffron Finches rested on baseball backstops, while screaming Rose-ringed Parakeets flew past overhead. It wasn't all exotics though; we had wonderful views of delicate White Terns as they prospected for nest sites on various tree branches, while American Golden-Plovers scampered across the cut lawn. Post breakfast, we headed to the hills for our first endemics; some patient searching gave us great views of Oahu Amakihi, but we couldn't track down any of the Oahu Elepaios we heard singing from dense brushy patches. After lunch and a drive around the north end of the island, we spent the afternoon visiting some wetlands, and finished the day with a gang of Bristle-thighed Curlews -- some sprinkled across a golf course, others foraging on a nearby national wildlife refuge -- and not a Grizzly Bear in sight!

Next, we moved on to Kauai, the wildest and least populated of the islands we visited. We started with a drive to the island's northeast corner, where a visit to the Kilauea Point Light netted us hundreds of perched Red-footed Boobies, plenty of flying Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, some lurking Great Frigatebirds, a handful of distant Hawaiian Geese, a single Red-tailed Tropicbird on a nest and a very unexpected Kermadec Petrel that chased around (screaming) after passing seabirds. Then it was off to a subdivision in Princeville for a fun rendezvous with some courting adult Laysan Albatrosses, and a fluffy poodle of a chick -- right in people's front yards! A day-long visit to the lush highland forest of Alakai Swamp and Koke'e State Park brought us eye to eye with a confiding Kauai Elepaio, our first Iiwis, an adult and juvenile Anianiau, and (after considerable effort and some acrobatic posing to get into the right position to view it through the branches) a serenading Chinese Hwamei. A morning to Hanalei NWR brought us Hawaiian Coot, some Hawaiian Ducks and Hawaiian Geese resting right beside the road, the endemic subspecies of Black-necked Stilt, and a very cooperative Japanese Bush-Warbler singing from bare branches at the top of a tree. Then we were off to sea, for a 5-hour pelagic that brought us nearly within arm's reach of three species of booby (including an uncommon Masked), two species of albatross (including a thrilling encounter with a Black-footed), three species of shearwaters (mostly Wedge-tailed, with a sprinkling of Sooty and Newell's), four species of terns (with nice comparisons between Brown and Black noddies, dozens of Sootys and a couple of brief Gray-backed), lots of White-tailed Tropicbirds, a few Great Frigatebirds, a solitary Red Phalarope, and an exciting flyby Tristram's Storm-Petrel. The boiling masses of birds we chased back and forth across the waves were fun to watch as they hovered and circled and dove after fish!

We spent the remainder of the tour on the Big Island, Hawaii itself, starting with a night in the damp, lush highlands right outside Volcanoes National Park. Though our primary focus here was the stark, dramatic volcanic landscape (and the massive Kilauea crater, which was particularly impressive on our after-dinner visit), there were, of course, birds to see as well. Dozens of brightly colored Apapanes sang from treetops, a pair of courting Omaos chased each other back and forth through the dripping forest near the massive lava tube (the female doing lots of wing quivering), Kalij Pheasants strolled the roadsides, Hawaiian Geese strolled across the hardened lava fields (showing well the relatively small amount of webbing they have on their feet), and Black Noddies cruised back and forth along the layered cliffs where they bordered the sea. From our base in Waikiki, on the dry, hot side of the island, we ventured into the cool, damp, foggy highlands of Hakalau NWR, along a bumpy, rutted dirt road that yielded excellent views of introduced Chukars and Erckel's Francolins. The cloud forest here is among the richest in the islands, still with much of its avifauna intact, and we had wonderful encounters with endemics here. Apapanes and Iiwis flirted among the red Ohia blooms, a couple of Hawaiian Creepers demonstrated nicely how they got their name as they crawled over a huge Koa trunk, several pairs of Akepas danced through dripping foliage (the males little flashes of burnt orange among the greenery), Hawaiian Elepaios flitted through the branches, a couple of Akiapolaaus gave us eye level views of their uniquely shaped bills, and a very damp Hawaiian Hawk sat glumly on a branch. Combined, they made that steep, soggy walk in the rain more than worthwhile! The following morning, after a drive that netted us great views of perched and hunting Short-eared Owls (another endemic subspecies), we enjoyed a fine, sunny morning with dozens of Hawaiian Amakihis, a big-billed Palila, which serenaded us from a treetop, and a picnic breakfast with several dry-side Hawaiian Elepaios. Then it was off to the stony Pu'u O'o track for one final attempt at finding more Akiapolaaus for those who'd missed them at Hakalau. We came up visually empty (though we heard several), but up-close-and-personal encounters with nesting Hawaiian Elepaios, and a flyby Hawaiian Hawk helped to ease the sting.

Thanks so much for joining Dan and me for the adventure. Your enthusiasm and camaraderie really added to the trip! Thanks too to the various photographers who contributed the pictures for the following report (and many more in addition). And thanks, of course, to Dave for his wonderful knowledge of the birds (and plants and insects and history) of Kauai, and to Caroline at FG headquarters for helping with all the tour logistics. We hope to see you on another tour soon!

-- Megan

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Hawaiian Ducks are more likely to be genetically pure on Kauai than elsewhere on our tour route. Hybridization with Mallards is a big problem for the declining species. Photo by participant Rick Woodruff.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
CACKLING GOOSE (Branta hutchinsii) – One alternately waddled on the shore and paddled across the lake at Wailoa River State Park, looking rather lonely.
HAWAIIAN GOOSE (Branta sandvicensis) – A distant trio systematically mowing the grassy lawn around the (off-limits) Kilauea Point Lighthouse were our first. Fortunately, we got much closer looks at a family snoozing in the grass beside the road into Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and a gang of foraging birds walking through the lava fields at the end of the Chain of Craters road in Volcanoes National Park (NP). One thing we could clearly see on those foraging birds was the greatly reduced webbing on their toes -- which assists with lava walking, presumably! [E]
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos) – Abundant around the edges of the pond at Wailoa River SP, with a few flybys en route to Hakalau NWR.
HAWAIIAN DUCK (Anas wyvilliana) – We looked at a lot of Mallards (and more than a few hybrids) before we finally found a couple of ducks that ticked all the boxes for this island endemic; the two we found snoozing along the channel at Hanalei -- eventually, they raised their heads and slipped into the water -- allowed nice, close studies. [E]
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – A pair floating on a distant paddy at Hanalei NWR, seen from our perch at the overlook on the roadside high above, were certainly unexpected. This species isn't common on the islands.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
CALIFORNIA QUAIL (Callipepla californica) – A huge covey (30-40 birds) scuttled across an open grassy field at the Waimea Recreation Area, entertaining us as we waited for Gary and Taj to set up breakfast. We saw another flighty group as we searched for Palilas at Pu'u La'au. [I]
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
CHUKAR (Alectoris chukar) – Two trotted along in front of each van as we left Hakalau NWR, escorting us out of the foggy grasslands. They seemed particularly loathe to leave that open roadway! [I]
ERCKEL'S FRANCOLIN (Pternistis erckelii) – Plenty of these big gamebirds in the highlands on the Big Island, with brief looks at some melting into the impenetrable gorse thickets down the hill from Hakalau NWR, and more leisurely views of others in the grasslands along the Old Saddle Road and at Pu'u La'au. We also had glimpses of a few along the road up to Koke'e State Park (SP) on Kaua'i. [I]
BLACK FRANCOLIN (Francolinus francolinus) – A few scurried along the roadsides as we ascended to Koke'e SP on Kauai, but our best views came on the Big Island, where we saw several handsome males singing challenges from convenient boulder tops along the Old Saddle Road. [I]

There's something very endearing about the shaggy poodle look of a nestling Laysan Albatross. This one was snuggled in a front yard in Princeville. Photo by participant Ken Allen.

RED JUNGLEFOWL (Gallus gallus) – Almost ridiculously abundant on Oahu, where they wandered everywhere -- including two hens and their growing broods bustling around the Aiea Heights trail parking lot on our first morning. Also common on Kauai. [I]
RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus) – Another species introduced by the hunting brigade. We had a few scattered birds -- one slinking along behind the Bristle-thighed Curlews at the Kuhuku Golf Course on Oahu, and a few along the Old Saddle Road on the Big Island. [I]
KALIJ PHEASANT (Lophura leucomelanos) – This species, native to the Himalayas and western China, was seen nicely in the highlands of the Big Island, with several along the roads near the Kilauea Lodge and others in the misty forest at Hakalau NWR. [I]
WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo) – Common in the grassy highlands of the Big Island, including a hen with a handful of small chicks scrambling along behind her on the drive up to Hakalau NWR. [I]
Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
LAYSAN ALBATROSS (Phoebastria immutabilis) – Bayard spotted our first, slicing over the waves far offshore from the Japanese cemetery at Kahuku on Oahu. We had much closer views of a trio of adults -- and a fluffy mop of a sleepy chick -- in the front gardens of several houses in Princeville, where the birds have been breeding since the 1960s. After a "discussion" with the third bird, a pair settled in for a bit of courtship display, with much posturing and billing and fiddling with stones. Lovely!
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS (Phoebastria nigripes) – Wow! One of these dark seabirds glided effortlessly in from behind our boat, hung right over our heads for a few thrilling moments, then glided away over the waves. It returned again and again over the next half hour, checking the action of the flock we were following.
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
KERMADEC PETREL (Pterodroma neglecta) – One soared back and forth above the Kilauea Point Lighthouse, screaming and chasing the passing boobies. (Its jaeger-like plumage apparently tricks the birds into thinking they're being attacked by a jaeger, so that they drop their catch.) This same individual (presumably) has been on Oahu for the past 20 years -- and has recently been joined by a second bird. It was a lifer for both of your guides!
WEDGE-TAILED SHEARWATER (Ardenna pacifica) – Abundant around Oahu and Kauai, with some close flybys near the Kilauea Point Lighthouse (where numbers were returning to their burrows) and hundreds scooting over the waves on our pelagic. Once they started to fill up with fish, we even saw some sitting on the water beside the boat.
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea) – A few of these larger, all-dark shearwaters joined the feeding frenzy we followed on our pelagic trip.

Kilauea Point Light is the site of a burgeoning seabird colony, where we saw plenty of Red-footed Boobies and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters -- and a rather unexpected Kermadec Petrel! Photo by participant Ken Allen.

NEWELL'S SHEARWATER (Puffinus newelli) – At least three individuals flashed past while we followed the big flock on our pelagic. Their smaller size and distinctively black and white plumage (rather than the brown and white of the Wedge-tails) helped to separate them from their larger cousins. [E]
Hydrobatidae (Storm-Petrels)
TRISTRAM'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma tristrami) – Thank goodness for Jacob and his camera! Dan spotted this small seabird as it jinked its way across the tossing waves, and got us all on it, but it sped away without being confidently identified. Fortunately, authoritative review (thanks to a number of seabird experts) of the pictures Jacob got led to its identification as this species, which breeds in the northwestern Hawaiian islands.
Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)
WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD (Phaethon lepturus) – Easily the more common of the tour's tropicbirds, seen regularly around Kauai -- including a few flapping in circles far below us at the Koke'e SP overlook, and a handful of birds passing overhead on our pelagic.
RED-TAILED TROPICBIRD (Phaethon rubricauda) – A couple of birds seen from the Kilauea Point Lighthouse parking lot: a distant bird flying past, its distinctive red tail plume trailing out behind it, and a second bird snoozing on a nest ledge. The latter was, unfortunately, behind a little bush which blocked that noteworthy tail, but we could still see the red bill which separates it from the previous species, which has a yellow bill.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
GREAT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata minor) – A few hung menacingly over the cliffs at the Kilauea Point Lighthouse, waiting for fish-laden boobies and shearwaters to return to their nests. We saw others over the fray on our pelagic.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
MASKED BOOBY (Sula dactylatra) – A single bird sailed past as we followed the feeding flock on our pelagic trip, giving us a nice view of its distinctive brown mask. Though it breeds on rocky islets around the Hawaiian islands, this is the least common of the boobies seen on this tour.
BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster) – A scattering of birds along the Oahu coast (including some seen from the Kuhuku golf course and others seen from our dinner table at the New Omani) and a sprinkling of others in the offshore feeding frenzy on our pelagic trip.
RED-FOOTED BOOBY (Sula sula) – Easily the most common of the tour's boobies, with hundreds panting on stick nests scattered across the hillsides at the Kilauea Point Lighthouse, and others in the feeding flock on our pelagic.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Regular on Oahu and Kauai, where they trundled along roadsides and followed livestock in fields.

Pacific Golden-Plovers are almost ridiculously common on the Hawaiian Islands, trotting across lawns, ballfields, and roadside verges everywhere. Photo by participant Rick Woodruff.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – A few on each island, including a youngster on a bund between the paddies at Hanalei NWR, and an adult crouched, hunting, along the edge of one of the shrimp ponds at Kahuku.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
HAWAIIAN HAWK (Buteo solitarius) – Our first was a morose dark-morph bird sitting in a dripping tree at Hakalau NP, seen -- row by row as we maneuvered the vans along a gap in the vegetation -- as we left the park. Fortunately for those who missed that first one, we had brief looks at another (a light-morph bird this time) as it coursed over our clearing at Pu'u O'o on the last afternoon of the tour. [E]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
COMMON GALLINULE (HAWAIIAN) (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis) – Our first chugged across the shrimp ponds at Kahuku, and we saw others on the paddies at Hanalei NWR. Their bright red shields certainly made them easy to find among the vegetation! [E]
HAWAIIAN COOT (Fulica alai) – Also common on the Kahuku shrimp ponds and at Hanalei NWR. Recent DNA studies have suggested that this species should probably be lumped back with the American Coot -- thereby costing Hawaii another endemic. [E]
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (HAWAIIAN) (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) – A scattering at the Kahuku shrimp ponds, with bigger numbers striding on their improbably long pink legs around the paddies at Hanalei NWR. [E]
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis fulva) – This, the "robin" of the islands, was ubiquitous (at least in the unforested lowlands) throughout the tour, foraging on lawns and ballfields and roadside verges everywhere.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WANDERING TATTLER (Tringa incana) – Our first was little more than a gray lump with a short beak, far down the beach at Kahuku -- good spotting, Rick! Fortunately, we had a much more satisfying look at another along the edge of the lake at Wailoa River SP, and many in the group saw another on the beach at our hotel in Waikoloa.
BRISTLE-THIGHED CURLEW (Numenius tahitiensis) – Wow! For those who've slogged up arctic hills in search of these rare, elusive shorebirds, finding a pack together on a golf course seems a bit surreal! We had fine changes to study them up close (with nary a bear in sight); we could even read the colored leg band numbers on some of them, and confirm that they were the same birds as those we saw last year.

A Bristle-thighed Curlew shows off its namesake bristles -- and we didn't have to climb a single hill (or risk encountering a single Grizzly Bear) to see it! Photo by guide Dan Lane.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – A handful pattered along the shore at Kahuku, occasionally changing places with a fluffy of black and white wings.
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – One flew in and landed along the edge of one of the shrimp ponds at Kahuku -- a rather unusual spot for a Sanderling. We found a few others with the Ruddy Turnstones along the shoreline, which is where you'd expect them.
RED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus fulicarius) – One, still in its pale winter plumage, flashed past the boat during our pelagic.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BROWN NODDY (Anous stolidus) – Very common on our offshore pelagic, plunging into the sea after fish, or powering over the waves in loose flocks. This species is noticeably bigger than the next.
BLACK NODDY (MELANOGENYS) (Anous minutus melanogenys) – We saw some on our pelagic trip, sprinkled among the masses of larger birds and far outnumbered by the previous species, but our best views came at the end of the Chain of Craters road in Volcanoes NP, where dozens swirled along the cliff face right below us. Their smaller size and whitish tails help to separate them from the Brown Noddy.
WHITE TERN (Gygis alba) – Fabulous views of these small, delicate terns -- previously known as Fairy Terns -- near our hotel in Oahu. We even saw some checking out nesting spots in the big trees across the road. Don't know about you, but terns nesting in trees always seems a bit bizarre to me!
SOOTY TERN (Onychoprion fuscatus) – Scores seen on our pelagic trip, typically in big, noisy flocks overhead. Their two-toned plumage (dark brown above, white below) quickly separated them from the other terns.
GRAY-BACKED TERN (Onychoprion lunatus) – Scattered individuals on our pelagic, each a pale bird seen among the fray.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Daily. [I]
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis) – Ditto, with particularly nice studies of their namesake spotty napes in the park across the street from our Oahu hotel. [I]
ZEBRA DOVE (Geopelia striata) – Also daily, with those in the park across from our Oahu hotel the first morning drawing the most attention. [I]

An inquisitive Hawaii Elepaio checks us out along the Pu'u O'o trail on the Big Island. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura) – Some in Dan's van had brief views of a couple flushing off the edge of the Old Saddle Road on the morning we headed up to Pu'u La'au. [I]
Strigidae (Owls)
SHORT-EARED OWL (HAWAIIAN) (Asio flammeus sandwichensis) – Those in Dan's SUV on the day we drove up to Alakai Swamp saw the first, as it hunted over the grasslands en route. Those in my van on our way from Volcanoes NP to our Waikoloa hotel saw another as it flapped across the road in front of us. And we all had super views of the next ones, as they hunted from fence posts on a farm along the Old Saddle Road. This is an endemic subspecies.
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (Psittacula krameri) – Common on Oahu, particularly around our hotel, where noisy flocks winged over the park across the street and a female rummaged through the top of one of the trees. [I]
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
HAWAII ELEPAIO (MAUNA KEA) (Chasiempis sandwichensis bryani) – This is the paler, grayer, dry country form of the Hawaii Elepaio. We had fine views of one foraging in a bush just over the fence from our breakfast spot at Pu'u La'au, after we'd found our Palila. [E]
HAWAII ELEPAIO (HILO COAST) (Chasiempis sandwichensis ridgwayi) – And this is the darker, more richly colored, rainforest form. We saw them in Hakalau NWR, but our best views came along the Pu'u O'o trail, where we found one busily building a nest, and where a second foraged along branches right over our heads. [E]
KAUAI ELEPAIO (Chasiempis sclateri) – A few in the Alakai Swamp, including one that danced along branches right in front of us on one of the side trails we investigated. [E]
OAHU ELEPAIO (Chasiempis ibidis) – Arg! We heard at least three pairs calling -- including one RIGHT BESIDE the trail -- but just couldn't find the singers among the thick vegetation. [E*]
Alaudidae (Larks)
SKY LARK (Alauda arvensis) – Our first was a half-hidden bird mooching along the edge of the parking lot at Waimea Recreation Area, seen while Gary and Taj made breakfast. Then we saw dozens and dozens and DOZENS along the Old Saddle Road, with others in the grasslands en route to Hakalau NWR. [I]

Hawaii Amakihi was easily the most common of the tour's amakihis -- particularly at Pu'u La'au, where they regularly distracted us from our search for Palilas! Photo by participant Ken Allen.

Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
RED-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer) – Very, very common on Oahu, including dozens on the grounds of the park across the road from our hotel. [I]
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL (Pycnonotus jocosus) – We saw a few along the track out to the Kahuku NWR (where we saw the Bristle-thighed Curlews), perched up atop some of the bigger bushes. [I]
Cettiidae (Bush-Warblers and Allies)
JAPANESE BUSH-WARBLER (Horornis diphone) – After priming everybody for how difficult this skulking species can sometimes be to see, we had a singing male sit right out in the open for a good five minutes at Hanalei NWR, giving everybody a great chance to study him in the scope. We heard many others on Kauai and the Big Island. [I]
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
JAPANESE WHITE-EYE (Zosterops japonicus) – Another ubiquitous species, found every day in virtually every habitat -- often in noisy little groups. Their high-pitched calls and songs were a regular part of the tour's soundtrack. [I]
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
CHINESE HWAMEI (Garrulax canorus) – As usual, we heard far more than we saw, but -- with persistence -- we did get everybody on one of these rather plain laughing-thrushes, tucked into some thick growth below the overlook at Koke'e SP. [I]
RED-BILLED LEIOTHRIX (Leiothrix lutea) – We found a few pairs of these handsome Asian birds along the Aiea Heights trail, while searching for elepaios, and heard others on the Big Island. [I]
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (Copsychus malabaricus) – Seen regularly on Oahu and Kauai, with the rich, warbling songs of many others echoing from the woods on both islands. A long-tailed, singing male along the Aiea Heights trail gave us especially nice looks as he bounced back and forth through some fallen branches over the path. [I]
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
OMAO (Myadestes obscurus) – Our first were an apparently courting pair flashing back and forth through the tall trees near the lava tube on the Chain of Craters road; we kept getting the scope on the female, who sat with quivering wings, begging for food like a youngster would -- and getting fed by the male. We had longer looks at others in the forests of Hakalau NWR and in the Koa the Pu'u O'o trail. [E]

The Hawaiian Goose is making a comeback on the islands. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos) – One seen by those in Megan's vehicle on our drive up to Hanalei NWR (our first full morning on Kauai), its wing patches flashing as it flew across the road. [I]
Sturnidae (Starlings)
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) – Another ridiculously common species, trundling across lawns and parking lots throughout the tour. [I]
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
RED-CRESTED CARDINAL (Paroaria coronata) – This was the cardinal most regularly seen on Oahu and Kauai; it has a longer crest than the next species does, and has a dark, rather than yellow bill. [I]
YELLOW-BILLED CARDINAL (Paroaria capitata) – Splendid views of two -- and adult and a food-begging youngster -- near one of the buildings at Wailoa River SP on the Big Island, with others near our Waikoloa hotel. [I]
SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola) – Our first were a flock of dull females and youngsters rummaging in the grass near the airport terminal in Hilo (and the gang had lots of time to study them while Dan and I went to get the vans). We found some bright males in the grass near the restrooms at the Wailoa Recreation Area -- and bouncing on the lawns at our Waikoloa hotel. [I]
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis) – Scattered birds on each island, including a singing male perched up along the track across the Kahuku golf course. [I]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
WESTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella neglecta) – Our best group views came at Hanalei NWR, where a singing bird sat first on a telephone wire, then atop a nearby tree. Some of the group saw near the Kiluaea Point Lighthouse, or heard them singing near our Kauai hotel. [I]
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
PALILA (Loxioides bailleui) – This was the last of the Hawaiian endemics we managed to connect with -- and we had great views of one at Pu'u La'au. We chased after the distant calls of one (or more) for a bit when we first arrived, but were (eventually) rewarded when a male arrived in a nearby treetop, where he foraged a bit, singing occasionally. That's some beak! [E]
APAPANE (Himatione sanguinea) – We found our first along the Alakai Swamp trail on Kauai where their cheery red plumage made them easier to find than some of the other endemics. We really hit the motherlode when we reached the highlands of the Big Island though -- they were everywhere! This is the only Hawaiian endemic that the IUCN rates as of "least concern" -- and it's apparently the only one that may be developing some level of resistance to avian malaria. [E]

The iconic I'iwi was gratifyingly common on the Big Island. Photo by participant David Belcher.

IIWI (Drepanis coccinea) – We had our first handful in the Alakai Swamp, but, as with the previous species, our best and longest views came in the highlands of the Big Island, where they were abundant. We also saw several endemic plants with flowers that have the same shape as the Iiwi's dramatically curved beak -- indicating that avian malaria threatens more than just birds! [E]
AKIAPOLAAU (Hemignathus wilsoni) – A couple of calling birds foraging -- uncharacteristically -- in a Koa tree gave most of us a pretty good look as they scrambled along the branches. Unfortunately for those who didn't get on them, though we caught up with another bird along the Pu'u O'o trail the following day, we never laid eyes on it -- though we certainly heard it calling repeatedly! [E]
ANIANIAU (Magumma parva) – This was certainly one of our more cooperative -- and confiding -- endemics! We found a bright yellow adult and a somewhat duller youngster foraging around a little clearing along a side path in the Alakai Swamp, and they often descended right down to eye level. Unlike the amakihis, this one has stripe through the eye. [E]
HAWAII AMAKIHI (Chlorodrepanis virens) – This was easily the most common of the tour's amakihis, with groups of four or five at a time flicking through the Ohia trees along the hilly trail at Hakalau NWR, or swirling through the treetops at Pu'u La'au (distracting us repeatedly from our search for Palilas). [E]
OAHU AMAKIHI (Chlorodrepanis flava) – This was the first Hawaiian endemic we saw, when one flicked around our group along the Aiea Heights trail, checking out some flowering trees over the path. We saw another well -- a rather drab youngster that visited a spike of red flowers -- while we waited for the reluctant Oahu Elepaios to make an appearance. [E]
KAUAI AMAKIHI (Chlorodrepanis stejnegeri) – Arg! We heard this species calling from the trees around several of the parking areas in the Koke'e SP, but could never maneuver into a spot to actually see one. [E*]
HAWAII CREEPER (Loxops mana) – A couple of birds on some big tree trunks at the start of the hill path at Hakalau NWR showed well why this species is called "creeper"; they behave rather like nuthatches. [E]
HAWAII AKEPA (Loxops coccineus) – A bright male danced across the stiff leaves of several Ohia trees, his orange plumage glowing in the misty rain. We saw several pairs on our way down (and up) the hill at Hakalau NWR. [E]
HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus) – Daily. Compared to birds on the mainland, a surprising number of Hawaiian birds are orangish rather than pink or red. This is a good example of the "founder effect", where there is a loss of genetic variation because the original number of individuals (and hence available variation) was very small. [I]

The Hawaiian Creeper is the "nuthatch" of the islands, crawling up and down tree trunks and prying under bits of bark for food. Photo by participant John Cobb.

YELLOW-FRONTED CANARY (Serinus mozambicus) – Our first looks came in Waikiki our first morning, in the park across the street from our hotel. We saw others on most days on the Big Island, including a trio bouncing around with the Saffron Finches on the lawn near the restrooms at the Waimea Recreation Area. [I]
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Daily, on every island, particularly around cities and towns. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
COMMON WAXBILL (Estrilda astrild) – Hundreds buzzed around the fields across the street from our Waikiki hotel in restless, whirring flocks, as did smaller groups around the Kahuku shrimp ponds. [I]
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura punctulata) – Daily on Oahu and Kauai, including a few along the bunds between the shrimp ponds at Kahuku, and others on the grassy roadsides at Hanalei NWR. Bob and Joyce caught up with some on the grounds of our Waikoloa hotel. [I]
CHESTNUT MUNIA (Lonchura atricapilla) – Flocks of dozens foraged along the roadsides on Oahu and Kauai. [I]
JAVA SPARROW (Lonchura oryzivora) – Flocks of these large sparrows -- including some dull-faced youngsters -- rummaged in the grassy fields of the park across the street from our Waikiki hotel. [I]

SMALL INDIAN MONGOOSE (Herpestes auropunctatus) – We saw these little carnivores scurrying across the road on several occasions. This species has been a huge problem for ground-nesting birds on the islands. [I]
HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL (Monachus schauinslandi) – One snoozing on the rocks off Kilauea Point was a very nice find; this is an endangered species, with fewer than 1100 thought to remain in the wild -- and only about 150 on the main Hawaiian islands. [E]
DOMESTIC CATTLE (Bos taurus) – A few lingered in the nearly impenetrable gorse thickets along the road to Hakalau NWR -- descendants of those cows that avoided the last roundup of the property's final ranching owners. [I]
DOMESTIC GOAT (Capra hircus) [I]
DOMESTIC SHEEP (Ovis aries) – Several huge flocks of Mouflon, the ancestor of the domestic sheep, wandered through the fields edging the Saddle Road on the Big Island. Like so many other alien species in Hawaii, these were introduced for hunting. [I]
BROWN ANOLE (Anolis sagrei) – One on a wooden pole just through the fence at the Kiluaea Point Lighthouse was entertaining, flashing his yellowish-orange dewlap at a nearby Green Anole. We saw others at Hanalei NWR the following morning. [I]
GREEN ANOLE (CAROLINA ANOLE) (Anolis carolinensis) – One on a wooden post, conveniently within feet of a second post with the previous species, at the Kiluaea Point Lighthouse. This lizard was larger than the previous species, and had a reddish dewlap and an unpatterned back.
COMMON HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus frenatus) – A few scurried up the walls at our Waikoloa hotel each evening, chasing bugs attracted to the lights.
COMMON COQUI (Eleutherodactylus coqui) – We heard the loud, distinctive, onomatopoeic call of this small Puerto Rican frog from the dripping forest around the Kiluaea Lodge in the night. [*]
GREEN SEA TURTLE (Chelonia mydas) – A few folks saw a head pop up out of the surf just off the Japanese cemetery at Kahuku -- and then, just as quickly, disappear back under the water.


Totals for the tour: 86 bird taxa and 5 mammal taxa